A Zed and Two Noughts Reviews
So, the movie's story, such as it is, begins with a car crash caused by a swan in which the wives of two twin zoologists both die. As a result of this tragedy, the zoologists become fascinated with decay and begin making time-lapse films of the decaying corpses of various animals. Meanwhile, both brothers are also having an affair with the woman who was driving the car, who now only has one leg. There's also a woman who has weird issues involving zebras. Also, one of the brothers likes putting snails all over his body. A plot synopsis of this movie sounds like the result of a game of Madlibs played by people on acid.
There's the story, but that's not really all that the movie is up to. Every inch of the mise-en-scene in Greenaway's shots is cluttered with stuff - furniture, lights, cameras, animal corpses, plants, and so on. It's obvious how much care and work went into the preparation of every scene of the film. On the one hand, the film is visually very dense and concrete; on the the other hand, it is narratively and thematically very abstract and unreadable. I watched the introduction Greenaway gives on the DVD before I watched the film itself, and he pointed out that the film had three main themes: twins, nature, and light. While I can certainly see that all of those elements are playing a huge role in the movie, I have no idea what, if anything, it's actually saying about any of them. It's more like the movie is simply meditating on these ideas for a while, looking at them from a bunch of different angles but offering no overarching synthesis or interpretive framework for the viewer. Greenaway seems to be an intensely intellectual filmmaker who comes up with ideas first, and builds character and plot around the ideas later. There's so much going on in the movie's frames that it's tempting to not even pay attention to the human actors or their impenetrable dialogue and instead just look at all the stuff.
And then there are the insert shots of time-lapsed decaying animal corpses. Did you ever want to see a zebra carcass decay? You can here!
I'm not saying the movie is bad, nor am I saying it is good. It is what it is; it seems to exist purely as a thought experiment for the director, and has no concern over how an audience might react to it. You might admire that sort of thing; you might find it repulsive. At the very least, I can say this - you don't know strange until you've seen a Peter Greenaway movie. This guy really might not even be a human.
I do understand his films but a word of caution they are not for all tastes.
This one deals with two brothers who lose their wives in a car crash and spend the rest of the film obsessing about death ,decay and some sex .
The brothers spend hours shooting various items from appples to Zebras in various stages of decay while Michael Nyman plays on the soundtrack ,Frances Barber appears in various stages of undress and Jim Davidson ,yes that Jim Davidson plays a Zoo keeper.
What does it alll mean?
Well wahtever you want it to really the film s lets your imagiantion grow and the subjeact poses more questions than it answers.
The film on the whole kind of reminded me of the subjects David Cronenberg would be interested in ,and it is odd who Greenaway has struggled to get films made ,while Croneneberg continues to make challenging films.
Yre the film is a touch prententious ,but anyfilm which engages the brain must be doing something right ,even if it is a bit odd .